Friday, July 28, 2006
When I first stumbled across Marva King, I recognized her face a little, but I didn't know where from? Then I thought, "She probably just looks like somebody else, since female R&B clones are in these days?" I actually thought she was a new artists that had just popped up on the scene? After a little investigation, I quickly realized that she was not new at all. She's actually a vet. I was also pleased to discover that Marva King is from Flint, Michigan, which is not that far from Detroit. You know I always got love for my fellow Michiganers! Unknown to me, she's been making major moves in the entertainment industry for many years actually. She's worked with a lot of major talent over the years. Can you say Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Phil Collins, Tupac, Lionel Richie and Ms. Chaka...Chaka Khan? She also dabbled in the gospel arena as well by working with the legendary Clarke Sisters and Andre Crouch. Marva has worked with many major figures over the years, but she is probably most known for her role as Helen in the Tyler Perry play and DVD entitled, "Diary of A Mad Black Woman." I need to watch that again! Outside of being a great singer and actor, she's also an author. She recently had a book published entitled, "Diary of A Black Woman: Medea and Me," which talks about her life on the road while she performed with Tyler Perry. Talk about multi-talented! She's finer than frog hair too, so what more can you ask for?? Good Googly Moogly!!
Ummm, where was I? Oh yeah, her music! Marva has already released an album overseas titled, "Soul of Brazil," which Warner Brothers Records has planned to release here in the U.S. very soon? She has just finished recording her new album, "Soul Sistah" that was just released overseas back in early June, and it will also be released in the United States later this year. Marva is not your typical neo-soul/R&B singer. She brings a diversity to urban music that is still a limited commodity in 2006. Her music is refreshing and uplifting, while incorporating all forms of soul. One of the songs off of her new album that immediately caught my ear is "Know You!" The groove is so hypnotic, plus it's a duet. I don't know who the brotha is trading verses with Marva, but I'm diggin' it! Another nice track is her remake of Minnie Ripperton's "Baby This Love" song. I don't normally like remakes, but I like this one for some reason? There are a few more standout joints on this album, but I'll let you find them. In the infamous words of Nate Dogg..."It ain't no fun if the homies can't get none!"
Outside of the music, acting and her book, she also has a calendar you can purchase as well from her website! It only covers the months of August 2006 to January 2007 though, but who really cares? Nobody really buys a calendar for the monthly layout anyway, it's all about the photos. Marva keeps it classy and not trashy in her pics too. Damn!!! If I wasn't so cheap, I'd be all over this calendar with the quickness....?
Okay, the rest is up to you? Checkout Marva King's website and listen to some of her songs from the new album.
Marva King's Website
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Slow jams are a special part of music to me. Forget what you heard, baby making music is what really makes the world go round. The majority of you folks were conceived while your maw and paw were slow jammin' to one of their favorite tunes? Having a slow jam tape/cd was a necessity when I was coming up. When the ladies dropped by for a visit, it was time to put on the one of the slow jam compilations to set the mood. I would do my homework prior to their visit though! I would findout during general conversation who were the music artists that they really loved, and I would make sure that they were included in that particular compilation that I would just so happen to play! It is nothing more rewarding than when the young lady would hear her favorite slow jam come on, and get all excited! Plus, they never seemed to remember that they told a couple weeks back that they loved that particular artist or song! Hmmm, how soon they forget? Those kinds of moments can turn a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE situation into a VERY POSSIBLE situation, if you get my drift??? Music has a very powerful effect on people's emotions and moods. Playing the right song(s) at the right time can be crucial when the potential for sex is teetering on how well you set the mood?
Slow jams in 2006 have changed drastically though! The choices are very limited (atleast for where my tastes are concerned anyway). If Omarion, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and Keyshia Cole are your thing, mo power to ya, but today I'm taking things back to the 1990's! Not too old school, but old enough to bring back memories. For all the old heads, enjoy this compilation and remember the good times, and you new schoolers take note to what is missing today? Oh yeah, I threw some rain sound effects in there too, just to bring back that quietstorm feel!
RETRO LUV TRACKLIST:
1- Maxwell - Sumthin Sumthin (Mellosmoothe Mix)
2- 112 - Why Does
3- Mary J. Blige - I Never Wanna Live Without You
4- SWV - You Are My Love
5- R. Kelly - Etcetera
6- Carl Thomas - Hey Now
7- Frankie - If I Had You
8- Kut Klose - Surrender
9- Changing Faces - Foolin' Around (Kenny Smoove Remix)
10-LSG - Door #1
11-Tony Toni Tone' - Whatever You Want
12-Donnell Jones - Yearnin'
13-Faith Evans - Give It To Me
14-Guy - Tease Me
15-Usher - Whispers
DOWNLOAD RETRO LUV VOL. 1 HERE!
Friday, July 21, 2006
I normally smash on today's urban radio stations for brainwashing the masses with the crap they "think" people want to hear, and because they could care less about quality of choice! Yes, I still feel that way about urban radio, but there are a couple of exceptions? Michael Baisden and Steve Harvey are trying to bring some diversity and quality back into urban radio with their respective radio shows. Yes, it is mostly targeted for the 30 and older crowd, which they call "Grown Folks Music" just to clear things up a bit for those that are confused with their song selections? Both pretty much stay away from hiphop and risque R&B songs all together? I guess depending on what you like as far as music goes, this type of radio may be perfect for you? Not for me though! It is still pretty one sided in my opinion, but who am I? If you didn't know...."It's SoundNexx babie!" To each his own though! Radio may never be what I would like it to be, so I may just have to except that fact?? Then again, with technology I can make my own radio show dammit! Well sort of??
Okay...back down radio memory lane we go! I remember back in the day in Detroit, FM 98 (WJLB) would have a segment during the evening called, "Slam It or Jam It." The concept was great! The disc jockey would premiere a newly released song by an artist for all to hear, and then allow the listeners to call in and say whether they wanted the DJ to "Slam It" or "Jam It?" Slam It meant to trash the record so it could never be heard again, and Jam It meant you wanted them to play it another day. The concept was genius! It got listeners religiously tuning in at that time to hear the tracks, plus it gave us hope of picking the songs that we wanted to hear? Did our opinions REALLY matter in the end?? HELL NO!!! Some of the slammed songs were eventually played again, and some of jammed tracks were never heard again. Sometimes, they would weight a few weeks later and replay a previous song again to hopefully get a different turn out? Honestly, nobody really cared? It was all in fun from what I could tell. Playing certain records is big business for radio stations, so you really think they are going to let some fickle fans get in the way of that? Of course not! Sadly, the "Slam It or Jam It" segment was cancelled. All good things must come to an end...or do they??
More to come about that later..... For now, enjoy my latest radio mix.
RADIO STATION 3 PLAYLIST:
1) Michael Jackson - Lady In My Life
2) Wayna feat. Kev Brown - Dreamin'
3) Tupac - My Block
4) Kanye West feat. Twista & Keyshia Cole - Impossible
5) Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl
6) Robin Thicke feat. Faith Evans - Got To Be Down
7) Georgia Anne Mulgrow - Larva
8) K-Solo - Can't Hold It Back
9) Mary J. Blige feat. Jay Z - Turn Off The Lights
10) Patrice Rushen - Remind Me
11) Tonya Morgan - Bad
12) V - Best Friend
13) Total feat. Da Brat - No One Else
14) Carl Thomas - Dreamer
15) New Edition - Cool It Now
16) DeBarge - I Like It
17) Aaliyah feat. Treach - A Girl Like You
Download WNEX Station 3 Here!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The topic of women in hiphop has been an ongoing debate for many years! I have been involved in several discussions about this topic over the years, and it is amazing how the opinions vary? Some folks are very strong minded about their beliefs, and others could really care less. Nonetheless, everyone that I have debated with on this subject have one thing in common. They all really love hiphop music! I love hiphop music as well, and I guess that is why I try to concentrate more on the positives of the music rather than the negatives? Are the images of women in hiphop positive or negative?? Hmmm...U be the judge! I broke this topic down into two catagories. One is "HipHop Video Models a.k.a Video Vixens" and the other is "Female Rappers." I actually feel like these are two seperate issues, but they overlap at times.
As we all know, music videos have come a long way since the last 20 years. Not only has the quality of the video gotten much better, but it has become a very important marketing tool for today's artists! Not having a video for a new single can be detrimental to how well the song does on the music charts, and it could ultimately effect the overall album sales! Videos are BIG business, so the music labels want you to watch their artist's particular video! How do they do that?? Even though women have moved up tremendously on society's food chain, unfortunately men still pretty much run everything (to a degree)?? Oh yeah, and SEX still sells in even 2006, right! The largest consumer of hiphop music in this country is still young males, so when you add all of that together...what do you get?? Yep, you guessed it, "The Video Vixen!" I still remember when I first saw the infamous 2 Live Crew video for "Move Somethin" back in 1987 on Video Jukebox, and how that quickly became my favorite video! I could care less about the production or the mediocre rappin' on the track. I was only interested in seeing the honeys! They all had on tight dresses and biker shorts, showing off the goodies to keep all the young horny males watching. Now, the video girls back in 1987 ain't got nothing, and I mean NUTHIN' on the video vixens in 2006!! We have gone from tight slinky dresses to half naked, and in some cases totally nude! Cable is a wonderful thang...yes it is!!
Whether you agree with it or not, being a video vixen is big business. Some careers have been built from being in the right rap video? Just ask Leila Arcieri and Melyssa Ford! Booty has become an obsession over the last few years. Not just booties, but Big booties!! Think about it. When was the last time you saw a rap video "without" some serious ass shakin' goin on? Yeah, there are a few, but not many? If it wasn't for ass and rims, I don't know what half of these katz would be rappin' about? I must admit...I like a nice azz like the next man, but after a while it all starts looking the same? Every female in the videos has got the same long weaves, wearing thongs with stilettos to match, so the excitement has been lost? So, why keep doing it? I guess it's cool that some of the women get some face time on tv? Some of them feel like they may get their big break being on the set of one these videos, or maybe even catch one of these unsuspecting rappers and become a hiphop wife?? NOT!! Read "Confessions of a Video Vixen" by Karrine Steffans to find out some of the stuff that supposedly goes on between rappers and video girls? Some folks feel that these women are being exploited? I totally disagree with that, because these women choose to be in these rap videos! There is no secret of what is expected in these videos, and if they feel like they are being exploited or violated, they should leave. Everything is a choice. No one puts a gun to their head, right? "Good Googly Moogly!"
This "Sex Sells/Big Booties Everywhere" mode that hiphop is in has caused havoc for the female rapper as well. First the female rapper had to push the door down to get any respect from the male rappers, and now this! Remember when Queen Latifah and Monie Love were preaching about "Ladies First?" Times have changed. To get noticed as a female rapper in 2006, you have to be sexy (or try to be anyway). Remy Ma (Terror Squad) and Shawnna (DTP) that are currently blazing the charts? Both of them are selling the sexy image. Is that why their videos are getting played? If they changed up their image, and dressed more rugged with no make-up or weaves, would they still be popular?? Both of them are decent on the mic, but there are two other female MCs that would verbally abuse these two ladies with no problem! These two ladies are none other than Jean Grae (shown in the pic above) and Apani B Fly! I am quite sure most of you have never even heard of them?? Why? Both are attractive, but they want to be recognized for their lyrical abilities and not just for being sexy. A "Rap Hoe" as I have heard it described. You have to wonder why these two ladies have not gotten their due yet, but less lyrical female rappers like Trina, Khia, Lil' Kim and Jackie-O have? Not only are these two ladies better than your average female rapper, but they could lyrically handle most of the so-called male rappers as well. Jean and Apani both understand why the obstacles have been placed in front of their careers over the years, but they still remain determined to be true themselves and hiphop as a whole! I totally respect their position on this topic, but it's ashame the hiphop world may never get to see the full potential both of these ladies have to offer?
I have been a true fan of Jean Grae for a minute now! She has a sick sense of humor that is really appealing? She doesn't take herself too serious, and she speaks on subject matter that many others avoid. She's a gifted lyricist with a lot of passion for the craft, which I appreciate!
Checkout this video for her cut "The Jam!"
Jean Grae - The Jam
Is having Video Vixens in a rap video the only way to make it worth watching?
Do female rappers have to sell sex to be successful in 2006?
Monday, July 17, 2006
As an American I have realized that sometimes we take our influence on other countries for granted? Especially, when it comes to the aspects of entertainment. Everything from the tv shows, movies, sporting events and music all have a great effect on the rest of the world! A perfect example of that is HipHop music! As you already know, hiphop is not just in the hoods, burroughs or on the street corners anymore, it's worldwide! The youth of the Japanese culture have totally embraced the hiphop movement. They have adopted the hiphop music, fashion and even the some of the slang! I had a chance to live in Tokyo for three years back in the 1990's, and I must admit I was pretty shocked by what I saw? The first time I went to a hiphop night club in downtown Tokyo (Shibuya), I saw a crowd of what I thought were black American men standing outside of the club? Tokyo has several American military bases there, so that wouldn't be that odd to see such a thing? After further investigation, I realized that these were not black men at all, but japanese men dressed in baggy jeans, loose fitting t-shirts with their Timberlands half laced. Plus, they all had very dark tanned skin to give the illusion of negroe ethnicity? As I approached the crowd of Japanese men while making my way into the club, it became very clear that these guys had probably never met an American black man in person? Only one of the three could speak an english, so he pretty much translated several questions about various topics ranging from where I was originally from to who was my favorite rapper? Their excitement and enthusiasm about hiphop was unlike any I'd ever seen in America. Once I got inside the actual club I was shocked again when I saw that the DJ was a young Japanese woman! She was mixing and scratching too. I was amazed by the choices of hiphop music the DJ was playing as well. Plenty of underground tracks and hot remixes that were mostly exclusive to Japan. All in all, I realized that Japan was serious about this hiphop music! I have heard several rappers that have toured in Japan say the same thing. Sometimes, they even feel a little embarrassed that the passion for the history and the culture is stronger over there than it is in America?? I agree with that statement to a degree?
Some Japanese hiphop artists have taken the challenge of developing their own signature production sound. DJ Honda was the first Japanese DJ/producer that I heard back in the 1996 who was actually working with a few well-known MCs like Grand Puba, Sadat X, The Alkaholiks & Redman! DJ Honda cracked the door for other MCs and DJs from Japan to make their way into the hiphop game in the new millenium. Honda has released several albums over the years, but just recently in 2005 he dropped his "Best Of DJ Honda" compilation. The title speaks for itself, but if you are not familiar with him, that will be a good place to start.
Two other Japanese DJs that have followed in the footsteps of DJ Honda are DJ Mitsu and DJ Kou-G (Grooveman-Spot). Both have brought that smooth, yet jazzy feel back in hiphop. Mitsu has remixed several classic hiphop and soul records over the last few years. Checkout his "New Awakening" album! Special guests include: K-Otix, Dwele, and Rich Medina, plus a few unknowns. DJ Kou-G keeps it smooth on production as well! He just released his first album entitled, "Eternal Development" in July 2006! He has guest appearances from Grap Luva, Capital A, MED, Miss Jack Davey & O.C. providing vocals over his beats! They are both on the Jazzysport label, and they are making some serious moves on the music tip. I dare say they are the Def Jam of Japan??
DJ's aren't the only thing that Japan has produced! There are also groups like the Teriyaki Boyz (shown in the photo above) who are currently signed to Def Jam Japan! These katz were making serious moves on their debut album "Beef Or Chicken." Def Jam recruited some of the top producers in hiphop like The Neptunes, DJ Premier, The Alchemist, Mark Ronson and DJ Shadow to provide the beats on the album! Damn, if every hiphop artist had the opportunity to have this kind of hook up on their debut album, it may be a different world? The Teriyaki Boyz are not for everyone, especially if you don't like to hear Japanese rap! Not that they are not good at it, but when you can't understand what's being said, it takes away from the whole experience (for some)? I am a production/beat man myself, so I can get past the foreign lingo when the beats are hot!There are lots of great music coming from overseas that you should be checking for. If you ever get a chance to kopp some music from overseas countries like the U.K. or Japan...do it! Most of that music is released on a limited print and release basis, and it is almost impossible to find in the U.S. in most cases?
Amazon.com is a good site to find import releases in most cases. It will probably cost more to purchase it, but if it's worth it's weight in value, it won't really matter..right???
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Does anybody listen to reggae music anymore? Has urban radio finally committed a musical homicide? Hmmmm? Hip-House hasn't been seen since 1989, so has hiphop reggae suffered the same fate! Personally, when I think of reggae music in general, two artists come to mind right off the back! They are Bob Marley and Shabba Ranks! Bob Marley is like the father of the whole reggae music movement in my eyes. Bob Marley is a legend that deserves his respect, not only for his musical genius, but for his revolutionary consciousness as well! I don't think anyone will ever have the effect that Bob Marley has had on this genre of music. Not comparing the two, but Shabba Ranks (a.k.a Mr. Loverman) also did a lot for reggae music's emergence in the United States. He took the meaning of success in reggae music to another level. Shabba's music was getting much airplay on the radio and video shows on BET. His sexually charged lyrics made most women blush, and made the men hold their women just a little bit tighter? "Wicked In The Bed" is still a Shabba Rank's classic! Mr. Loverman made reggae seem cool, which opened up the doors for other reggae artists to get their chance to capitalize, and created opportunities for collaborations with major artists from other genres of music. Shabba was the rude buoy of the day back in the 90's dropping hit after hit!
While Bob Marley was being a revolutionary, and Shabba was singing about his trailer of girls, there was another rude buoy that was hard at work trying to make his nitch in the reggae game as well. His name was Super Cat a.k.a Wild Apache a.k.a The Don Dada! Super Cat is from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, and he was already making noise in the music industry back in the late 80's. But, it wasn't until the early 90's when he made his presence felt in the United States. Did you know that Super Cat was the first reggae artists that used a sample for a reggae record? Now, it's very common to hear samples in reggae tracks these days! He is the true father of the hiphop reggae genre of music as we know it today! Not just because he was the first reggae artist to collaborate with a well known hiphop artist, but it's the way his urban sound revolutionized the music itself! Super Cat's grimey-smooth riddums just meshed perfectly with any hiphop beat. Plus, he's worked with some of the top hiphop artists from back in the 90's like Method Man, Biggie Smalls, Heavy D, Puff Daddy & Kriss Kross (remember them). That's not to mention all of the countless remixes that he's been apart of.
Soon after the flooding of the industry by other reggae artists like Buju Banton, Born Jamericans, Beenie Man & Mega Banton trying to capitalize on this new genre of music in the mid 90's, Super Cat's presence was less dominant? These cookie-cutter reggae artists were dropping songs left and right, which saturated the industry with mediocre material (in some cases)! Don't you hate when that happens?? Super Cat also had a run-in with the law that almost ended his music career, when he was suspected of murdering another reggae artist by the name of Nitty Gritty in New York City? He was never charged for the murder, but it did hamper him from making music for a while. In 1997, Super came back hard with a hit collabo with the group Sugar Ray called, "Fly." The new millenium has been decent to Super Cat as well? He's collaborated with well respected artists like The Neptunes, Jadakiss & India Arie. In 2004, The Don Dada released a multi-cd tribute album entitled, "Reggamatic Diamond Allstars" that features many great artists! I am happy to see that Super Cat is still making moves!
Now, I can answer the question: Is hiphop reggae really dead? Hell naw! Artists like Beenie Man, Sean Paul & Damien Marley are still keeping it alive! Will it ever be the force it was back in the 90's? Probably not! Major labels are not really looking for the next big reggae star these days. They're too busy trying to find the next 50 Cent or the teenie bopper that's willing dress half naked to get a record deal!
I have a few favorite hiphop reggae records that I still enjoy even today! One of them would definitely be the Super Cat classic, "Dolly My Baby" remix featuring Notorious B.I.G, Puff Daddy, Third Eye & Mary J. Blige! Can't go wrong with that one!
I put a mix together some of my favorite hiphop reggae tracks in a mix 4 your enjoyment!
HIPHOP RAGGA MIX TRACKLISTING
1- Terror Fabulous - Yaga Yaga (Remix)
2- Buju Banton - Champion (Remix)
3- Bounty Killer - Not Another Word (Dexterity Remix)
4- Super Cat feat. Heavy D - Dem No Worry Me (HipHop Mix)
5- Skeeta Ranx - Shovel (6 Feet Deep Mix)
6- Whitey Don feat. Phife & Chip Fu - Artical (Posse Remix)
7- Mega Banton - Money First (Norfside Mix)
8- Super Cat - Girlstown (HipHop Mix)
9- Fugees - Fu-gee-la (Sly and Robbie Mix)
10-Born Jamericans - Yardcore (Remix)
11-Capelton - See From A Far (Taxman's Mix)
12-Super Cat feat. Method Man - Scalp Dem (Wu Tang Mix)
13-Lady Apache - Rock & Comeen (HipHop Remix)
14-Mad Cobra - Big Long John (Remix)
15-Super Cat feat. Mary J. Blige - Dolly My Baby (HipHop Remix)
16-Shabba Ranks - Rough Life
17-Capelton feat. Method Man - Wings Of The Morning (Duo Mix)
18-Spider - Nappy Roots (Mad Mix)
19-Cutty Ranks - A Who Seh Me Dun (HipHop Mix)
Download the SoundNexx HipHop Ragga Mixx Here (4 A Limited Time Only!)
For you reggae music lovers out there, please leave some titles of your favorite hiphop reggae tracks in the comments section located below.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I am quite sure for the majority of you readers, the name Aloe Blacc doesn't ring any bells? Some of you real underground hiphop headz may know him from the indie group Emanon where he rapped along side his partner Exile? Then again, maybe not? To be honest, I am not a big fan of Emanon's music. Not that they suck or anything, but it just not my cup of juice (I don't drink tea)? I gave their last album "The Waiting Room" a hard listen a year ago, and it just didn't move me! But, I encourage you hiphop headz to give those Emanon albums a listen and make your own determinations! It may be just what you are missing?
These days, Aloe has turned over a new leaf! He has tried his hand at singing? I know you are probably thinking, "We don't need another Ja Rule type dude trying to sing!" I feel you, but Aloe Blacc is no Ja Rule when it comes to the vocals! As a matter of fact, if you didn't know he rapped in his previous endeavors, you would think he was a straight up R&B kat! Aloe can really sing! I saw him perform live a couple of weekends ago at the Detroit Tastefest as the opening act for J*Davey. Dude did his thing! Aloe has already released his first single titled "Ordinary People," which is a latin remake of John Legend's 2005 hit record.
Aloe Blacc's new album is called "Shining Through" and it just dropped on July 11, 2006. On the new album, Aloe shows that he multi-talented when it comes to music. It's basically a collage of many different styles, which is a plus for those that get bored quickly with most albums? He kicks some latin flavor on a couple joints, then he goes into some broken beat, accoustic, hiphop and R&B. The great thing about Aloe is that he can do all of these styles of music convincingly! I can't say that about too many other artists out there that jump between different genres? One cut off the new album that stays in rotation in my ipod is the song, "I'm Beautiful!" This is one of his soulful ballad moments. The message is self-explanatory, but Aloe puts his flava on it to make it his own. I hope he makes it a single, because the world needs songs like this! Will it make the world a better place...HELL NO! But, it can sure make you feel better when life seems to be handing you a raw deal though!
The "Shining Through" album is definitely worth your attention, especially for all you folks looking for something a little different from the normal crap that gets constant rotation these days! Check my man Aloe out! If you like his vibe, pickup the album and add it to your growing music collection. Tell a friend.....
Checkout some Aloe Blacc tracks at these websites:
Monday, July 10, 2006
"THE GREEN-EYED BANDIT!"
Let me just start off by saying...I don't get bothered by much in life! I am a pretty easy going person 92% of the time, but there are a few things that irritate me! What makes me a madder than somebody drinkin' up all the milk, holdin' up a sign asking for HELP while standing on the corner wearing newer shoes than mines & driving a car with black smoke pouring out of the tailpipe...is a teenager that thinks they know everything about hiphop!! I debate with teenie-bopperz all of the time and it usually ends with me saying, "HipHop did not start in 1995..you crumbsnatcher!" There are numerous hiphop veterans that unfortunately never got the chance to have clothing lines, shoe deals and platinum albums, but they definitely paved the way for the artists that came after them even if no one gives them their props. For that alone, they deserved to be recognized!
Today, SoundNexx is paying homage to Erick Sermon! Erick has done a lot for hiphop and music in general, but he is mostly recognized as one half of the superduo EPMD along side his partner Parrish Smith. Erick & Parrish Making Dollarz (EPMD) was one of the most influential groups of the late 80's and early 90's! If you didn't like EPMD, you didn't like hiphop. The chemistry on the mic between Erick and Parrish was flawless, and them flowing over the top of Erick's funky instrumentals would be the birth of several classic hiphop records. Tracks like "You're A Customer" and "You Gots To Chill" are stellar classics that could still be played today and have any party rockin'! Both of these tracks were on there now imfamous debute album titled, "Strictly Business" in 1988! A year later came their second album, "Unfinished Business," which solidified that they were not just a fluke! So Wat Cha Sayin? EPMD stayed on track with the yearly album releases by dropping their third album "Business As Usual" in 1990. On this album, the Hit Squad was born. K-Solo and Redman spit their first verses (not much) on this album, which lead into the classic posse cut "Head Banger" off of their fourth album, "Business Never Personal" in 1992. Sadly, things were starting to get personal! Money, betrayal and deceit basically destroyed EPMD and ripped this once monumental hiphop crew apart! Another sad after effect of EPMD's split was the displacement of the Hit Squad members. The crew had grown and the members consisted of: Redman, Das EFX, K-Solo, Hurricane G & Knuckleheadz. They also had to decide who they were going to roll with between Erick and Parrish, which sucked! It was a mess to say the least! Unfortunately, some of those artists were never heard from again? It was definitely a dismal day for hiphop when EPMD finally split up, but it was actually the birth of Erick Sermon's solo career!
Since, Erick Sermon was a well known producer by that time so he was a hot commodity in the music industry! Plus, he had Redman and his newly signed crew member, Keith Murray by his side! They formed a new crew called, "The Def Squad!" Each one of them would have several solo albums produced by Erick Sermon! Much classic material came from these katz! Erick Sermon was producing tracks and remixing joints for just about everybody that was anybody in the 90's! Then suddenly...after years of not really speaking, PMD and Erick Sermon decided to put their negative past behind them, and comeback together for a fifth EPMD album appropriately titled, "Back In Business" that dropped in 1997! The buzz was definitely back in the streets for this reunion, but the chemistry on the album was lacking? Had music changed so much that EPMD sounded kind of dated? They tried it again in 1999 with the release of "Out Of Business" and the title of the album said it all! It had obviously been too long for the duo, and the project seemed rushed and unfocused? Was this a scheme to make money? This would be the final album for EPMD, but Erick was steadily recreating his production sound. Over the years Erick had produced hits for artists like Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, En Vogue, LL Cool J & Blackstreet (just to name a few)!
The mid-90's were full of hiphop breakthrough powerhouses like Death Row Records (Snoop, Tupac, Dr. Dre), Bad Boy Records (Biggie, Craig Mack, Mase) and The Wu-Tang Clan that basically had hiphop by the throat at that time! That left Erick Sermon in a difficult position. It seemed like the hiphop community had forgotten about him and his sound! These fickle hiphop headz! How soon they forget? Other than the hit single, "Music" that used that now classic Marvin Gaye sample back in 2001, Erick would pretty much been invisible? Not that he was trying to be, but the music industry had pushed him aside (like so many others in the past) looking for the next new talent. Is the man known for spittin' lyrical one-liners with the lisp gone forever? Erick tried to resurrect his career with the release of "React" in 2002, and "Chilltown, New York" in 2004, but they both went unnoticed? That joint actually had a couple of bangers on it. Who knows for sure whether Erick Sermon will ever make a true comeback in this game we call "HIPHOP?" If he does..."Don't call it a comeback, he's been here for years!!!"
BTW, is his eyes really GREEN?? I always thought he wore contacts, but I have heard that they were real as well???
Of course I gotta mix poppin' off reppin' my man Erick Sermon, but until then..do yourself a favor and get reacquainted with those EPMD and ERICK SERMON classics (except you DMecca...I know u still got them in the whip!)
Oh Yeah, Kanye West wasn't the first rapper to make song about a Gold Digger (4 those of you that didn't know already).....
Remember this track: EPMD - Gold Digger (1990)
Friday, July 07, 2006
Some folks know them, but most have totally slept on them?? The Strange Fruit Project is one of the great hiphop groups that has gone undiscovered for too long! With positive (but, not preachy) lyrics, smooth-melodic baselines and uplifting subject matter...it is hard to ignore this group. Members Myone (MC), Myth (MC) & Symbolyc One (DJ/Producer) make up this southern hiphop group based out of Waco, Texas! Yep, I said..."Waco, Texas!" Don't get it twisted though, these boys are coming correct despite what previous opinions you may have about other rappers coming out of Texas? No, SFP doesn't sound like the typical Mike Jones, Paul Wall, The Geto Boys or UGK type rappers that Texas has been known for over the last few years! Strange Fruit Project would be more comparible to groups like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Slum Village. I don't really like to compare artists because they are all different, but I just wanted to be clear about what type of musical vibe they are on.
I discovered Strange Fruit Project from a local Detroit mixtape deejay by the name of DJ Graffiti on his classic "Bling Free Volume 3" mixtape back in early 2004! Graffiti dropped the SFP gem "All The Way" from their second album titled "Soul Travelin," and I was flabbergasted! I immediately went on the quest of finding out about SFP and I stumbled upon a re-released special edition version of their first album titled, "From Divine." Both albums were pretty solid overall. In some of their songs their is a prevelant spiritual overtone, but they are not a gospel rap group by any standard. They just express that having faith in something (a higher power, love, life, etc.) can give any person the courage to work through the daily trials and tribulations that exist in the world. Can't be mad about that!! Well, I guess you can, but don't be!
There is some good and bad news when it comes to SFP? The bad news is that most of you have been totally comatose on SFP's first two joints, which are definitely worth your attention. The good news is that SFP is blessing the world with their third album fittingly titled, "The Healing" that drops on July 25, 2006. Unlike their first two albums, this new album is full of guest appearances from great artists like Erykah Badu, Darien Brockington, Little Brother, DeLoach and Bavu Blakes. This just shows how major SFP has become over the years without all of the major distribution and backing that other artists get! There success thus far has been based on word of mouth for the most part. I hope this new album will finally get them the recognition that they deserve? Maybe, they can get their video played a million times on MTV & BET like all of the other so-called rap stars out of Texas?? Hmmmm....don't hold your breath!!!!
Do yourself a favor if you haven't already and get a familiar with SFP! If you are hungry for some good tastin' hiphop music...getchu some of this Strange Fruit!!
Here are some sites where you can start:
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Now, I know what Ice Cube meant when he coined the phrase, "Today was a good day!" For those of you that don't live in Detroit (or any other large city) this time of year is Tastefest time! The Tastefest is an annual event where local restaurants and vendors come to a central location and present food, drinks and products that are for sale over a four day period! This event is one of the highlights of the summer for a lot of people here in the Detroit. Folks come from far and wide to get their mouths on some of the great food and drink at the Tastefest. Outside of the abundance amounts of vittles, there were also an enormous amount of free concerts (4 stages) and live performances covering just about everything from rock, soul, jazz & salsa to skateboarding and animal shows! With a time schedule of 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. over a 5-day period during the Tastefest, there is no way you could take in each and every event? So, you had to pick and choose what events you wanted to attend wisely!
The soul/hiphop line up for 2006 Comerica Tastefest was pretty good overall! There was a nice variety of local and outside talent for all to enjoy. Some of the local katz that represented well were dudes like DJ Houseshoes (Producer/DJ) who put on a nice mix show, Waajeed (Platinum Pied Pipers) that did a tribute music mix dedicated to J. Dilla and Jeremy "Ayro" Ellis (Singer/Producer) who also gave a great show! Ayro is a real talent! Amp Fiddler (singer) did his thing too! My man's hair is crazy! I missed the Dabrye (Producer) performance though dammit, but I know he represented as well. Other artists like Common, Havana (great live performer), J Moss, Spyra Gyro, Mavis Staples and Lola Morales put on solid performances as well! Honestly, I am not a big live concert advocate when performed at arenas & stadiums because most of the time the tickets are really overpriced, and the performances are just mediocre at best? Now, the free concerts at the Tastefest are something totally different. Why? Because with the right approach, you (the fan) can get a little closer to some of your favorite artists? Overall, the 2006 Comerica Tastefest (Detroit) was full of standout moments and tastee food, which made the 5-day extended weekend something to remember!Now, on to real highlight of my Tastefest experience! There was one act in particular that I made sure that I went to watch perform, and that was the supergroup...J*Davey! I have been a real fan of their music since 2004, when I first heard the track, "No More." I didn't know anything about them back then, but I knew I needed to find out. J*Davey is a duo made up of Jack Davey (lead singer) and Brook D'Leau (producer). Their sound is hard to categorize? It's a mixture of soul, electronica, funk & hiphop with an overtone of new wave. They don't have an official album out yet, but they have already established a cult-like fanbase over the years! I have heard several of their songs over the years (which I like), but I was not sure what to expect seeing them live? Let's just say I got more than I expected! I got to the event early to make sure I got my front row seat right in front, so I could make definite eye contact with Ms. Jack Davey when she hit the stage (which I did)! Suddenly, Aloe Blacc (singer/songwriter) hit the stage first! Aloe Blacc is another up and coming artist to check for! I will have more to come on him later in one of my upcoming posts! Anyhoo...Aloe did a couple of his new joints to get the crowd hyped! Then he introduced J*Davey to the stage, then Ms. Jack Davey's lean frame hit the stage sporting a white cotton one piece short set, red belt and red stilettos (shown in the photo above)! Brook D'Leau stayed in the background playing his keyboards and droppin' the hot beats! Everything was cool until Jack told everyone to come up to the front and party (was she serious)? Why'd she say dat shyt?? Suddenly, all of these crunchy feet, resale clothing shop dressin', Angela Davis wig wearin, fake Erykah Badu immulatin' chics just rudely ran up front and stood in front of the people sitting in the front row!! I quickly went from watching Jack Davey's slinder frame singing sweet melodies, to seeing out of shape bitties shaking their asses in my face! I had one of those Ludacris moments, "Move bitch, get out the way!!!!" I was trying to reframe from getting ig'nant, so I just stood up and continued to enjoy the concert, which actually turned out to be greater later!
After the J*Davey performance concluded, I aggressively made my way back to the tent where all of the artists were chillin, to get my limited edition bootleg CD signed and to get some my convo on with J*Davey! I must say Jack Davey & Brook D'Leau are some cool people! They both signed my CD, took photos and shared some info about there upcoming project that will hopefully be dropping in October 2006?? They explained that being an independent group, it is sometimes difficult to get your projects out as fast as you would like too? Ms. Davey reminded me that she was still broke, and she needed all of the money she could get! While I was back there chatting with J*Davey, Amp Fiddler rolled up getting ready for his performance! Another cool kat! I exchanged a pound with Waajeed, DJ Houseshoes and Aloe Blacc before I jetted! I was invited to the afterparty that evening, but a brotha had to work! Dammit, I hate when my job gets in the way of me gettin' my groove on at the afterparties!!!!! I expect J*Davey to blow up when they finally drop their debut album, but if they don't...so what! They're still a dope group...period!
As I told you many posts ago...YouTube is that Ish!!!
For your viewing pleasure, I have provided you J*Davey's first video for the cut, "Mr. Mister." Check it out and tell me what you think of it?
J*Davey - Mr Mister
There will be more photos and info about the Tastefest coming at you in later posts??
Checkout these sites for more music and info on J*Davey:
Monday, July 03, 2006
I know 90% of you self-proclaimed hiphop headz have been sleepin (straight Nyquil) on my main man J-Zone! Sometimes, I think me and Eharm are the only katz that know about J-Zone? It's time that this brotha get some well overdue shine and recognition for his contributions to the rap game! J-Zone is based out of Queens, New York, and like most young hiphop producers his influences are (the usual suspects) legends like Marley Marl, Pete Rock, DJ Premier and The Bomb Squad! J-Zone was serious about his production, but he did dable a little with rhyming. He was introduced to Vance Wright, who was Slick Rick's longtime DJ/producer and that was when Zone's career starting moving in an upward motion! He began to intern at a local music studio where he developed his skills and overall knowledge about production. While interning he went to college (SUNY Purchase) where he majored in music. His senior music project ended up being his first musical EP released on his own Old Maid Enterntainment label that was titled, "Music for Tu Madre" (vinyl only) back in 1999. Since, he didn't consider himself a rapper, he introduced two of his homeboys Al Shid and Huggy Bear (The Old Maid Billionaires) to the world who handled the majority of the rhyming on the EP. J-Zone was starting to get a buzz on the underground hiphop scene with his debut EP, and respected radio DJ's like Bobbito Garcia was showing Zone some love by spinning tracks from his EP on his radio show as well. There was definitely a large buzz happening for J-Zone on the underground hiphop scene. This was the start of a J-Zone's musical career, but even seven years later many folks still don't know him?
I came across J-Zone on the internet back in 2000! I was on HipHopSite and they were really hyping up his second EP release titled, "A Can of Whup Ass," which is now out of print! After I heard a couple of EP snippets from tracks like "190" featuring Al Shid and "No Consequences" I was immediately a J-Zone fan! He was bringing something different to the game. I had never heard a production style like J-Zone's back then. He could take damn near any sample and make a dope beat out of it. Plus, his unorthodoxed production style was addictive. He was the first producer that I had ever heard who would change the rhythm of the beat cadence during a record! I read something where J-Zone stated that he thought it was boring to keep using the same beat pattern during a song! He likes to change his beats up to keep them interesting. Like most producers that rap, J-Zone is not legendary on the mic, but his rhymes fit perfectly with his production style! He has a great sense of humor, so you will probably find yourself laughing out loud while playing his music because he doesn't take himself too seriously. There was a running theme (joke) that was prevelent throughout J-Zone's first three music projects, and that was his fetishes with Lucy Liu (actress) and Cadillacs (All pimps need one)! No woman could compare to Lucy, and he needed to stack his chips to get a caddy! True comedy!
In 2002, J-Zone got a distribution deal through FatBeat Records where he released his third project, "Pimps Don't Pay Taxes!" Since, he had a major distribution deal, his CDs actually made it to the music store shelves this time around. The new album sold more than his other projects, but still didn't make much of an impact based on the industry standards for record sales? Who cares about that? Not J-Zone! He's about the music. This album did put Al Shid and Huggy Bear on the map as true MCs though. In 2003, J-Zone dropped "Sick of Being Rich." This album had a few gems from Masta Ace, Copywrite, Celph Titled and Al-Shid. Tracks like "Ho Kung Fu," "Bling Around the Collar," and "38th & 8th" will keep you laughing! When was the last time you laughed while listening to a rap song??
In 2004, J-Zone released "A Job Ain't Nuthin But Work" that was pretty decent overall. His next couple of musical endeavors were side projects. "Gimme Dat Beat Fool: J-Zone Remix Project" was a project where he took some of his favorite rap classics and remixed them the way he would have liked to have heard them done. Then came the Boss Hog Barbarians (J-Zone & Celph Titled) album called, "Every Hog Has Its Day" in 2005! Celph Titled (from the Demigodz) did most of the rhyming, but again this album never loses its sense of humor! If you don't know who the Demigodz are, do yourself a favor and get familiar with them. These katz are some of the most lyrical MCs in the hiphop game! Currently, J-Zone has been promoting his new side project EP release titled, "Experienced" that just dropped on June 27, 2006! This time around he's taking a different legendary rock sample and flipping it into a dope beat for each song. I read that this project only has a limited 1000 CD copies available for purchase, but what does that mean these days???
If you didn't know who J-Zone was before, well you definitely know about him now! As usual, I can't guarantee that you will fully appreciate his music the way I do at this point? In 2006 there are several katz on the production tip that are making serious m0ves providing unique and diverse beat compositions like 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nicolay, MF Doom & Illmind! Finding J-Zone today may not be as exciting as it was back in 1999...that's all I'm saying? Did he influence these other producers? Who really knows, but I feel that he should definitely be mentioned respectively in this fine list of young producer talent!
Listen to a few of my favorite songs from J-Zone below (Click the link):
J-Zone feat. Al-Shid - 190
J-Zone feat. Dick Stallion - Disco Ho
J-Zone feat. Huggy Bear - Invisible Ink
Here are a few sites where you can get your ears on more J-Zone sounds:
J-Zone on Myspace
J-Zone on Amazon